Liverpool vs. West Ham United: Final score 0-0, Reds' top four hopes take a Hammer blow

Alex Livesey

Liverpool's top four hopes suffered a potentially fatal blow as they were held to a goalless draw at home by a West Ham side that they dominated but could not break down.

Liverpool got themselves off on the front foot and enjoyed the majority of possession, although their play around the final third was sloppy, and despite West Ham's hurried, agricultural approach to clearing their lines, the visitors did enjoy a few opportunities on the counter-attack. It was a pattern of play that was to be very much the theme for the rest of the game.

More from our team blogs: Liverpool FC Blog The Liverpool Offside

Liverpool felt they had an early claim to a penalty when Glen Johnson went down under Joey O'Brien's challenge, although the referee waved play on. Replays showed that the right-back appeared to leap over the challenge before then diving to the turf, so the correct decision was made, although Johnson escaped without a yellow card for his pains.

Despite Liverpool's offensive, the first real chance fell to Mohamed Diame after some wonderful skill from the former Wigan man, who used his pace, strength and footwork to cut from the right and get past four red shirts before taking a shot, but his fierce effort was over the bar and his fine work came to nothing.

Liverpool suffered a setback shortly afterwards as Stewart Downing was forced off with injury and replaced by Daniel Sturridge. The hosts continued to enjoy the vast majority of time on the ball, but could barely force any real chances, let alone finish them.

After half-time, there was no change in the pattern of play as Liverpool resumed their attacks, although they began to take on an increasing air of desperation. A hopeful shout for handball after the crowd - falsely - believed that James Collins had blocked Daniel Agger's long-range effort with his arm came to nothing, before some last-ditch West Ham defending denied Sturridge a good chance after he had been teed up by Steven Gerrard.

Yet as Liverpool poured forwards, West Ham were noticably being forced further back. James Tomkins was forced to clear off the line from a fierce Steven Gerrard effort as he picked up a deflected cross from Luis Suarez, but the visitors were still just about holding firm. Liverpool's chances were now coming thick and fast, however, and Suarez soon went close again as he beat Tomkins but saw his shot dragged wide.

Shortly afterwards, Liverpool finally had the ball in the net through Daniel Sturridge, although the goal was ruled out due to an offside. The hosts then had yet another penalty shout turned down as Tomkins appeared to bring down Gerrard, but once again, the referee was not forthcoming.

Liverpool looked as if they were only going to get a point, but West Ham almost snatched an unlikely winner in the last minute when Jack Collison got on the end of a corner to head at goal, but Lucas Leiva was positioned to clear off the line and at least preserve the draw for his side. Yet it was too little for Liverpool, who look like they will miss out on the Champions League for another year.

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